Reviews of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet.
The Financial Times
About the succeeding Firebird and Scheherazade, my opening sentence is comment enough. Both were made by Fokine for the Ballets Russes in those first dazzling seasons. Their success, their allure, and a whiff of Arabian Nights naughtiness guaranteed them tremendous box-office appeal. They survived after Diaghilev as spectres of their former selves, and today, frankly, they are almost unrecognisable. Their performance style is long lost. I saw late Diaghilev artists and immediately post-Diaghilev Ballets Russes performers trying to knock artistic sense into them, without denting their unlikeliness. What the Mariinsky troupe offers is also unlikely, but redeemed (up to a point) by the grand gifts of their casts and by tremendous performance from the Mariinsky orchestra under Boris Gruzin.
The Evening Standard
The Mariinsky Ballets tribute to the great Russian choreographer Mikhail Fokine (1880-1942) is a multifarious, multicoloured delight. It embraces a trio of entirely diverse pieces with which Diaghilevs Ballets Russes in fact, a rebellious breakaway troupe from the great St Petersburg company first bewitched Parisian audiences in 1909-10 (even if one of them, Chopiniana, was premiered by the Mariinsky itself in 1908). And on Friday night, at Covent Garden, the visitors did all three proud.
....One of his earliest and most enduring is The Firebird, easily the highlight of the triple bill the Mariinsky danced over the weekend. Some of the current costumes are less strong but Stravinsky's iconic music, commissioned in 1910, is still shimmeringly new, as is Fokine's choreography and narrative drive that clearly tells the story of the Firebird's capture by Ivan, and her skilfully slipping his clutches by trading one of her protective feathers for her freedom.
Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Firebird dominated the performance. Her nimble, darting style and sustained characterisation exactly captured the Firebird's fearsome independence. There was almost a Carmen quality to her longing to be free.